Throat Cancer Stages

Throat cancer occurs in five different stages of varying symptoms and varying severity.

Stages 0, I and II are less severe and can usually be treated with surgery, which removes the cancerous tissue, or with a combination of surgery and radiation therapy. However, throat cancer is rarely detected at these stages because the symptoms are less intrusive.

Throat cancer stages III and IV are very serious conditions. Throat cancer in these stages usually requires a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Most throat cancers at this stage require the removal of the pharynx or the larynx, or both. Removal of the larynx is called a laryngectomy, and removal of the pharynx is called a pharyngectomy. A laryngectomy is also required for most cases of larynx cancer.

In extreme cases, cancer cells can spread beyond the larynx and the pharynx to the lymph nodes. A surgery called a neck dissection is necessary to remove the cancerous cells. Afterward, radiation is usually used to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

After most surgeries for throat cancer, patients must learn new ways to speak and use their vocal cords. Voice aids may be necessary, and patients may learn new breathing techniques. Surgical restructuring may even be necessary to make speech possible and, in some cases, to allow food to pass through the pharynx to the stomach.

Rehabilitation is often necessary for throat cancer patients who undergo treatment at any stage.

Because throat cancer is less severe and easier to treat in its early stages, see a doctor immediately if any signs of throat cancer persist for more than two weeks. Signs of the early stages of throat cancer include:

  • changes in voice
  • difficulty swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw
  • hoarseness
  • lumps inside the mouth
  • a lump in the throat
  • persistent sore throat
  • sores in the mouth that don’t go away
  • thickening of the cheeks.

Stages of Throat Cancer

The different stages of throat cancer have different symptoms, levels of severity and treatments.

Early stages of throat cancer are more treatable and easier to recover from, but they’re also less noticeable and more easily missed than later stages of throat cancer, which are more severe and need immediate aggressive treatments.

Throat Cancer Recurrence

Even with treatment and rehab, throat cancer can sometimes recur. More treatment may be necessary, and treatment may differ from previous treatment types.

Throat cancer recurrence can be at the same site as the previous occurrence, or at a site quite distant from the previous occurrence of throat cancer. Symptoms and treatments vary depending on the type, site and severity of the recurrence.

Read on to learn more about the types of throat cancer recurrence, treatment options, severity and symptoms.